Today is World AIDS Day, a global event that's taken place every year since 1988. It's designed to help raise awareness about the disease: As the World AIDS Day website says, "people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV". With an estimated 33.3 million people around the world currently struggling with AIDS, raising awareness and fighting prejudice are more important than ever.
The United Nations is also backing the "Getting to Zero" campaign, which runs from now until 2015. Tying into the UN's Millennium Development Goal, the campaign outlines three "zero" objectives: Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
So how can you get involved, and what's happening to mark World AIDS Day?
Take the Avert AIDS Challenge
If one of the goals of World AIDS Day is raising awareness about the disease, then this online game from Avert is one fun way to spread knowledge. Answer the questions posed, and then Tweet your score with the hashtag #AVERTAIDSChallenge.
Add to the (2015)QUILT
(RED) is an international organization that's been engaged in creative campaigns to help raise money and awareness in order to combat AIDS and HIV for years. Today they're launching the (2015)QUILT, which will allow people to create a unique panel for a giant online quilt, and pledge to work toward an AIDS Free Generation by 2015.
Tune in to the ONE Campaign World AIDS Day broadcast
(RED) will also be joining forces with the non-profit ONE Campaign to host a special broadcast at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, in which guests such as U.S. President Barack Obama, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Bono and Alicia Keys will answer AIDS-related questions submitted on YouTube. The event will be live-streamed on the ONE Campaign YouTube channel.
You can also get informed about some of the current issues affecting the spread of AIDS. One major point is how the economic crisis has become a pretext for reducing financial support to one of the most important international initiatives to fight the disease: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Stephen Lewis, who along with his wife Michelle Landsberg will be in the red chair and speaking to George Thursday night, has called the Global Fund the "financial armada" in the battle against AIDS, and described the collapse of the fund's upcoming grants as a "catastrophic setback."
You can read the remarks he delivered on the subject this week at the Yale School of Public Health here.
Last night on the show we spoke with Dr. Julio Montaner, the past president of the International AIDS Society and the director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver. Here is his conversation with George:
And, of course, you can wear red, the official colour of World AIDS Day.